Sturgeon ‘set to recall MSPs’ to discuss new Covid restrictions before New Year
NICOLA Sturgeon is likely to recall the Scottish Parliament before the New Year to discuss introducing further Covid restrictions if infections continue to spiral.
Multiple sources have told The Herald that the First Minister wants Holyrood to discuss bringing in new measures to help combat the spread of the dominant Omicron variant of the virus.
The First Minister denied she had any current plans to carry out a recall of parliament on Twitter on Saturday night. However, two independent sources confirmed to the Herald on Sunday that it is being actively discussed and considered. Although no decision has been made at this stage, any action will now depend on the escalation of infection.
Tuesday, December 28 was being mooted as the date for the return to the chamber.
The Times newspaper also reported yesterday that Ministers are open to recalling Holyrood if rules are to be changed rapidly over the festive break. Both Stephen Kerr and Neil Eibbie, the Tory and Labour business managers, have separately written to the Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone about the issue.
Full details of the extent of the further measures that would be introduced are not yet clear. However, it comes as key government advisers on the pandemic have pushed for another circuit-breaker lockdown to help reduce transmission.
The move would come as another brutal blow to the already hampered hospitality industry, with further restrictions bringing the probability of Hogmanay events being cancelled.
The plans could also scupper the traditional New Year football match between Celtic and Rangers at Parkhead, set to be attended by tens of thousands of supporters on January 2.
On Saturday night, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford drew further speculation after suggesting The Netherlands, which just announced a strict lockdown, would not be the only country to do so.
He posted on Twitter: “It is a tough call to go into lockdown, no Govt wants to take action unless wholly necessary but the mood music is that this will not only be happening in The Netherlands. Checking the spread of Omicron is the priority to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed”.
Earlier this week, Scots were urged to minimise their social contacts and limit interactions to a maximum of three households at once in a bid to curb infections.
It is a tough call to go into lockdown, no Govt wants to take action unless wholly necessary but the mood music is that this will not only be happening in The Netherlands. Checking the spread of Omicron is the priority to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmedhttps://t.co/B7EotYkpvo
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) December 18, 2021
New guidance also came into forced on Friday setting out mitigations which should be adopted in retail and hospitality venues.
However, in a letter to Boris Johnson on Friday, Ms Sturgeon warned the Prime Minister that “restrictions on the operation of higher-risk settings, while of course undesirable, may now be unavoidable”.
She urged the UK Government to reinstate furlough or give the devolved administrations the means to set up similar initiatives on their own.
Ms Sturgeon confirmed she would consider imposing restrictions on “high-risk venues” such as pubs and nightclubs if furlough was introduced.
She said indoor venues with “poorer ventilation, where people come together in small, crowded places often with alcohol involved” could face tighter controls.
The revelations come after it was reported UK Government officials are also drawing up draft plans for a two-week lockdown after Christmas.
The Financial Times reported that Boris Johnson was presented with several options on Friday under a so-called Plan C, ranging from “mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown”.
The newspaper quoted allies of the Prime Minister who claimed Mr Johnson still wanted to go down the guidance route, but that he also had to be realistic about the threat of Omicron.
We can all take steps to protect ourselves and others in the run up to Christmas, including:
???? Getting vaccinated
???? Staying home as much we can
???? Testing regularly, especially before mixing with others
Watch FM @NicolaSturgeon‘s message ⬇️
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) December 17, 2021
Leaked minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), seen by the BBC, said scientists had told ministers that tougher measures need to be brought in “very soon”.
It is claimed the advisers had recommended moving to restrictions seen in step one and two of the easing of lockdown restrictions in the spring.
Latest figures in Scotland:
Scotland has recorded nine new coronavirus deaths and 5,917 positive cases in the past 24 hours.
The daily figures from the Scottish Government show 494 people are in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, of which 34 are in intensive care.
The Covid-19 death toll in Scotland under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – now stands at 9,780.
The test positivity rate stands at 12.2%.
A total of 4,369,398 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine while 3,988,961 have received their second dose and 2,436,952 have received a third dose or booster.
For all the latest health News Click Here